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Does SNAP Help People Lead Healthier Lives?

SNAP is a vital source of nutrition assistance for many low-income Americans, and also forms a critical foundation for the health and well-being of recipients, lifting millions out of poverty, and reducing food insecurity by as much as 30%. 70% of SNAP recipients are in families with children, and more than one-quarter are households with seniors or individuals with disabilities. We know food insecurity increases the risk of adverse health outcomes, further complicates the ability to manage chronic illnesses, and is linked to higher health care costs. Those lacking consistent access to adequate foods at some point during the year due to limited resources spend roughly 45% more on medical care in a year than people in food-secure households. Though its benefits are modest, SNAP can free up other resources that enable families and individuals to pursue health-promoting activities and pay for needed medical care, and many elderly SNAP participants are less likely to forgo their full prescribed dosage of medicine(s) due to cost. SNAP not only puts nutritious foods on the table, it’s a pathway to improved health and lower public expenditures on health care.

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